Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Swiss Misadventure

Switzerland was really not my cup of tea.
Back in January when I was making performances, the was a Bavarian
from Germany who prepared food for our shows. When he heard that I had
to leave the EU for visa reasons, he recommended that I go to
Switzerland. His name was Schmidt. He was a German from Bavaria. He looked like the 1920's silent film vampire Nosferatu or Tobi Hooper's version of Mr. Barlow from Salem's
Lot. He bragged and boasted about working in a 6 star hotel here in
Vienna. He claimed to know all the hotel workers all over Europe. He
promised me accommodation and work as a DJ in clubs.

First, he said that I could stay in Stravgen with a friend of his for
6 weeks and only pay 50 Euros. His friend lived with a girlfriend and
had a guest room. The man agreed but then his girlfriend was
worried about me dirtying her bathroom. So that fell through. Schmidt told me
to go ahead to Switzerland. He would put me up in hotels for the first
9 days. I asked him specifically if I had to pay. He said no. As a
hotel worker he would only be charged 50 Euros for every 3 nights. I
asked him again if I would have to pay for anything. He re-assured me
that I would not. He also promised to give me the name of club and bar
managers so i could work as a DJ.
I took the over-night train from Vienna to Zürich. There were not many people on the train. In my compartment were only two other men. The first got off in Linz. The second got off at Salzburg. I had the compartment to my self for the rest of the journey. I stretched out on the 3 seats and slept. I woke up in Buch, on the Swiss side of the border. I had not been checked by customs or immigration. One hour later, I arrived in Zürich around 6:30 in the morning. I ate a light breakfast and had coffee in the rail station. I saw sticker signs offering WiFi Internet at the station. I took out my laptop and tried to connect. I discovered that I needed a credit card to pay for the WiFi connection.
I left the station and walked around the city. I walked along Bahnhof Strasse. Many of the shops were still closed. The retail shops were high end expensive boutiques. I then walked down to bank of Lake Zurich. I found the city boring. I walked up a hill to a plateau and then came back down. I walked back to the train station. The sun had risen and the city was awake for another business day.
I consulted my map of the city and thought it would be a good idea to head up to the University. I was certain there would be cafes with WiFi. I took a tram up the hill for a few stops. I saw an interesting cafe. I got off the tram and went into the cafe and asked if the had wireless Internet. They didn't. They suggested that I go to Starbucks. That was out of the question. In Vienna, I once made the mistake of going into Starbucks because they offered wireless only to discover that I had to buy a card which cost 10 Euros for one hour. They suggested a street back in the centre of town. So I took the tram back down the hill.
I walked around the centre for one hour without finding any cafes with wireless. I went into one posh cafe and was rudely greeted by a waitress. I asked if they had wireless. She rudely shook her head. As I walked out of the cafe I heard her make a snorting sound to the other waitress and said that I was "dirty" in German.
As I continued walking I saw the strangest site. In the middle of the Sihi small river was the entrance to a subway station. I had never before seen a subway entrance with stairs leading down to the water and then an escalator which descended further deeper. I went down to check out the platform and the train. The name of the stop was Selnau.
I ascended out of the river and crossed the bridge. Suddenly the city seemed a little less affluent, and slightly less clean(though still spotless). I saw lots of Muslims. I quickly divined that I was in the "ghetto" of Zürich. It was boring and there was nothing there of interest. I crossed back over the river and went back towards the main railway station.
I passed by McDonald's which had a sticker offering free wireless. I went inside a bought a coffee and turned on my laptop. Yes indeed, McDonald's offered only 30 minutes of free wireless internet. I checked my email to see if Schmidt had sent me the hotel confirmation. I wrote an email to him advising that I had arrived in Switzerland. Wanting to conserve my 30 minutes, I logged out after 5 minutes. 20 minutes later when I went to log in, I was informed that I had used up my daily allowance. I was livid. I didn't even want to go into the lousy McDonald's in the first place.
On the street I asked a passer-by if there was an Internet cafe. He told me there was one nearby. I went there. Schmidt had sent me an email with a hotel reservation in Berne. I was tired as I had not slept comfortably on the train though I got about 4 hours sleep.
I took the train to Berne. I was really impressed with the railways. I had never seen such well designed and well built rails. The rolling stock was the most diverse and interesting that I have seen in any country. As the train went through the Alps, I noticed a heavy smog over the landscape. I shouldn't have been surprised to see air pollution but it was heavier than I had expected. Halfway to Berne the train passed by a Nuclear power station. Once again, I should not have been surprised but I had succumbed to the naive and foolish ideas that Switzerland was an enlightened, progressive and innocent country.
In Berne, the hotel was located at the edge of town at the last stop of the tram line. He
had made a reservation at a one star hotel. When I checked in, they had never heard of Schmidt. They finally found his name. They then informed me that I had to pay 90 Euros. I told them that my agent had booked and paid for the room already. The hotel said he had simply reserved the
room with a credit card but there was no payment.
I asked the hotel if it had wireless. It did but I needed to pay for it. I had to pay about 7 Euros for a 30 minute card. I sent frantic emails to Schmidt asking him what was going on. I ended up having to buy 3 Internet cards. Schmidt never returned my emails.
I had no other choice but to check into a hostel. It was awful. When I entered the dorm room and took the bedding out of the closet, I noticed that the comforters were wrapped in linen with illustrations of one foot long and 6 inch wide ants. Staying at the hostel were other
people from Europe and the US. Of course I was the only Black person
there. I got into a conversation with a woman from Portugal, a man
from Ireland and an assimilated white Mexican-American from
California. I had contentious conversations with them.
The Portuguese woman asked why Switzerland was not part of the EU.
"Why doesn't Switzerland want to be part of the European project?"
I replied that Switzerland was rich enough not to be part of the
Eurozone. Moreover, Switzerland is very autonomous and guards its
autonomy quite closely. In addition, the EU and the Euro is a scam and
the Swiss would be wise to stay out of it.
"Yes but don't they realise that the EU is good? Don't they want to be part of the European values?"
Her stupidity was so evident that I became aggressive.
"What values are you talking about? If you look at the history of Europe, one would not connote "European values" with anything positive.
The Irish man jumped into the debate. He said that Switzerland and the UK will have no choice in the future except to join the Euro. It was not only inevitable but a positive thing.
I countered that the EU was an anti-democratic project to destroy the social benefits that people fought and died for. The goal of the EU was to promote a capitalist super-state and exploit the majority of people.
The American jumped into the debate and argued against me. He said that since I came from North America, I have no right to criticise what the Europeans wanted to do. Though he was not happy with the state of the world there is nothing that can be done about it. He pissed me
off by saying that I was simply "throwing stones against the wall."
I got really snaky and replied. "I'm not 'throwing stones against the wall'. I'm simply expressing my opinion. Like an asshole, everybody has one!"
He made an expression well aware that I slapped him very good. I realised that these were people that I should avoid.
The Irish man went on to sing the praises of Vladamir Putin.I criticised Putin for being an authoritarian Czar. The Irish man was not hearing it. He had been to Russia in the 90s when people were poor and desperate. Putin, he said, had turned the economy around and has
made Russia rich again.
I left the table and sat alone and began reading my book. I overheard their continuing conversation. The American and the Irish men believed that nuclear power was the only choice for the future. Society had to move away from fossil fuels. Nuclear power was safe and anti-nuke
activists were ignorant and mis-informed about the benefits of nuclear power. The Irish man went even further. He said that nuclear power plants could be built in the middle of the ocean. The nuclear waste could be disposed in the ocean.
"The ocean is the most powerful force on the planet. Nothing can destroy the ocean. You can dispose of nuclear waste in the oceans without any negative consequences."
I kept my mouth shut. I realised that I was in the wrong place. I was surrounded by idiots and fools. I realised how deeply troubled Western Civilisation is. If these were the ideas and opinions expressed by ordinary people, we were truly doomed.
It also dawned upon me that I was facing certain doom in Switzerland. There was no accommodation nor work to be had. I realised that I was about to
be trapped and be killed in Snowland. Switzerland was so expensive. A cup of coffee costs $10CDN. Though there is WiFi in Switzerland, it is not free. I had to buy a card which cost $10CDN for 30 minutes! I had assumed that it was like a calling card. I thought that I could use it for 5 minutes at a time. I logged out after 5 minutes because I wanted to conserve my minutes. I was in for a nasty surprise when I tried to log back on. My card was no longer good. Once one activated a card, it could only be used for one session.
I spent $30 CDN alone for WiFi Internet cards.
I had blown 150 Euros in one day for trams, food
(McDonald's was the cheapest place to eat in Switzerland), coffee and Internet cards.
I concluded that Switzerland was too rich and too white for my blood and that I would try my luck getting back into Austria. Technically, I should have left the EU for 6 weeks. I was gone for 2 days but Austria stamped my passport and I obtained a visa for 3 months.
Schmidt finally replied. He did not understand what had happened. I saw him two weeks after I returned to Vienna. He hugged me and apologised still saying he did not know what
happened. He said he was leaving the bar to get food but would return.
I haven't seen or heard from him since.
The lessons learnt.
1)Never trust Bavarians.
2)Never trust anyone named Schmidt. Schmidt Shit.
3)Stay away from rich snow countries where a political party wins the most number of seats by campaigning to expel black people out of the country.
4)Mainstream people are to be avoided at all costs. The only people to be trusted are those with solid communist and Marxist politics. Anarchists, Social Democrats and Liberals are not to be
trusted and avoided at all costs.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey! I am sorry you had such a bad experience with Switzerland. As in every country, there are bad and good sides to discover... The "black-sheep"-posters are indeed so very disgusting, that many Swiss condemn them (and the politicans in whose minds they were invented) very harshly, but unfortunately not many enough. If you ever consider to go again to Switzerland, me - and I am sure, my friends, too - will be glad to show/to announce you some of the non-mainstream, affordable and beautiful places... Hello from the Swiss girl you met today in the Kafka Café.

Saturday, January 03, 2009  

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